Music

Two-Time Eurovision Champion Loreen Says She ‘Practiced Even More’ for Her 2024 Victory Lap Performance

Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden in 2012 with “Euphoria”; she competed in 2023 with “Tattoo,” and she won again — making her the only woman to claim two victories in Eurovision history. (She’s also one of two people to accomplish this: Johnny Logan won for Ireland in 1980 and 1987 and then again as a songwriter in 1992.)

When she takes the Eurovision stage on Saturday (May 11) at the Malmö Arena in Sweden to sing a medley that includes her new single, “Forever,” she will do so as the undisputed queen of the 68-year-old contest. Expect an overwhelming ovation from the 15,000 people in the venue.

This week, Loreen announced her 2025 U.K. and European tour, kicking off in Netherlands on Feb. 15 with 20 stops across Europe before she makes her way to Birmingham, England, on March 17, followed by a headline show at London’s Eventim Apollo on 19 March before continuing onto Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow, then wrapping up in Dublin at 3Olympia Theatre on March 27.

But first Loreen will headline Birmingham Pride 2024, the Isle of Wight Festival, Stirling Summer Sessions and Manchester Pride. She will also play major festivals in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany.

Billboard took the half-hour train ride from Malmö to Copenhagen to sit down with Loreen and talk about her new release, her Eurovision triumphs and her time on Sweden’s version of Idol.

Let’s start with the present day and talk about your new single, “Forever,” released today (May 10). I’ve heard it described as “spiritual pop.”

That was not me making it up. People are calling it that because I have always been speaking about the importance of sound and music and how spiritual it is and what it does to people – how it can transform a feeling. You can be in a certain state of mind when you listen to a song and all of a sudden, you’re in a different one. It’s very powerful if used the right way. I have also talked about frequencies and how I create music. I’m very much aware of these different waves and what it does, and chakras, how we open up and how we cleanse and transform energy. All music is spiritual for me. It is the common language. So yes, I do love that title, “spiritual pop.” It says a little bit about what music is. Music can cleanse and handle pain. We can use sound for a lot of things. My tribe, when they’re in sorrow, when somebody has passed away, there is a certain move and a certain sound you do. Sometimes when people cry, they have deep pain, they make a certain sound.

It seems like there is a connection between “Forever” and your Eurovision winner, “Tattoo.”

The song “Tattoo,” and the whole performance, is a representation of life. Pain, love, struggles, up-and-down life, the journey of life. Because you saw a lot of emotions there. There was masculine, there was feminine, there was vulnerability, all of that that is human. “Forever” is like the last chapter. What’s the conclusion? The conclusion is love. When you’ve seen all of that, you’ve accepted the pain. You’ve accepted everything. Love is what everything is about. Because everything is energy. That’s physics. Let’s just skip the spiritual and speak about quantum physics. Everything is everything. There is no separation. If we are waves, that means if I generate positive energy, it’s going to affect you. Love is the only thing we get to keep with us when we pass on to the next life or whatever we do.

The funny thing is that I didn’t have the song before I had the narrative. I knew that I was going to perform it [in Eurovision] and I felt in my body that this is an opportunity. This is an important moment, because 200 million people are connected to this. It’s a pretty huge gathering, so I knew exactly what I needed to say. I went into the studio with the performance in my head. All the details you’ll see on Saturday.

You have all the knowledge within you. You don’t have to go and look for it. You just have to trust it. That’s how my creative process works. I take the microphone and I just sing without any judgment and then certain sentences come out and I listen back to it.

Was the starting point for “Forever” the melody, the lyrics or the harmonies?

I had the narrative. I knew this was going to be a declaration of love. Love is key. How is it going to be presented? It usually starts with the harmonies. It’s pretty simple; I sing by the piano. Now we have a pattern, and from there, it’s just singing. A free start from beginning to end. And everything came almost in one take. Of course, we tweaked it a little.

You’ve competed twice in Eurovision, but Saturday night you will be on that stage and no one will be voting. Will it feel different than when you were in a contest?

With “Tattoo” I managed to block out the fact that it was a competition. I worked really hard to block that out, because if I had those thoughts in my head that I was in a competition, that would totally distract and disturb my energy. So I have a way thinking, “It doesn’t exist.” I do it purposely. My team didn’t talk about the competition. I did other things. The only thing that mattered was generating my energy and sending it out. I don’t like the word pressure. I like the word important. This moment is important to me, because I understand what it can do. I have a huge respect for the fact that there are millions of people spending their valuable time watching this. What I’m going to feel is very focused and very much love, definitely. I can tell you that I practiced even more for this song then I did with “Tattoo.” You’ll see what I mean.

Compare your “Euphoria” experience with your “Tattoo” experience. With 11 years in between the two Eurovision performances, were they very different?

Extremely different. “Euphoria” was the first step for me. I mean, I hadn’t performed in front of an audience like that before. It was the first time I decided to rely on my intuition. And if you look at “Euphoria,” you’ll see sometimes I was there. People said, “Oh, Loreen is mysterious.” Yes, but I was shy. I was in and out, like you could see me, you couldn’t see me. That was a representation of where I was as a person. “Euphoria” prepared me for “Tattoo,” because 11 years later, did I trust my intuition? Completely and fully. Do I have to understand what my intuition is telling me? No. I will follow it anyway. And if you compare “Euphoria” to “Tattoo,” “Euphoria” was very mysterious. “Tattoo” was very light, very open about everything. It told the truth without being scared. It’s showing love without being scared. Those 11 years were necessary. It made a huge difference.

In 2004 you were a contestant on the first season of Idol in Sweden. Did that prepare you to be on a larger stage, like Eurovision?

Idol was very interesting for me. It was educational. Because I was a spiritual kid, I sang from a very sacred place. I didn’t think I was going to be an artist. That was not my idea. It was just a sanctuary, a safe space. Idol came with all these rules. It was an energy I wasn’t used to, but it was so important for me. They told us, “This is right. This is wrong. Stand like this.” At that time in my life, it confused me, which was a good thing. It was such an important lesson because after Idol, I knew I needed to learn all these things. I needed to learn about my voice. I needed to learn about producing. Idol shook me in a good way. I didn’t feel it then. It’s always like that, isn’t it? Without Idol, I don’t see how that process could’ve started. I was thinking, “I’m going to make it on my own. I’m going to start understanding things.” Looking back, I’d like to thank Idol for being such a big teacher for me, pushing me in the right direction. It’s good to get feedback sometimes and ask, “What am I?”

Loreen will perform on the grand final of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest. Viewers in the U.S. can watch the four-hour live broadcast on Peacock at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 11.

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